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Smashwords | Author Olivia Boler

Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun
April 25th, 2014

Why Does KDP Hate Me?

Unfortunately, there was a snafu with my Kindle Direct Publishing account, and my special sale was cut short today. I hope to have it up again, but here’s what I take away from the experience:

When I decided to independently publish my novel, I went with Smashwords first because they have a wide distribution, not just on their own website but also with other major retailers—iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc….They don’t have a deal with Amazon, so I put up my book there later, unaware that Amazon had this KDP Direct program. What is it? Basically, if you publish your ebook exclusively with Amazon, you can do a couple of promos. One is a free giveaway of your book, run for up to 5 days. The other is discounting your book, again for 5 days. You also apparently get a slice of some profit-sharing that I only vaguely understand because I find such things tedious, even though they’re important.

I hesitated to take my book off Smashwords. They are great to indie authors, and they don’t ask for exclusivity. But sales had become non-existent, and I wanted to get some traction and exposure, that would be simple to run and not too time consuming. I took the book down and signed up for KDP Select. That was a mistake. I should have waited a couple of weeks because it takes a while for all of Smashwords’ partners to take down your book from their websites. KDP immediately sent me a warning. They have creepy crawlers out there, just looking for you to mess up.

When I was sure that I was in the clear, I went ahead and put the book up for free in March. It was great! Tons of downloads. Then, yesterday, because KDP has some kind of time constraint on when you can offer the Kindle Countdown Deal (the discount), I put the ebook up for 99 cents. Yay!

This afternoon, I got another robot-like email from KDP that “our records indicate that we previously informed you that submitting non-exclusive content to KDP Select is not acceptable and may result in loss of KDP Select benefits” and “as a result of repeat violations of the KDP Select exclusivity requirement, we have removed all of your books from the KDP Select program. Your titles remain available in the Kindle Store.”

WTF!?! (Deep, calming breaths. But why is it suddenly so hot in my brain???)

They sent a link (so helpful!) to the offending site, and sure enough, there’s my book on a French site—FNAC, actually, where I used to go shopping when I lived in Paris 20 years ago. How do I like them pommes? Not very much.

I contacted Smashwords about this, and got an immediate (human!) email response. They are going to work on getting this down, and they didn’t even call me a traitor for leaving them. Sniff, sniff!

Back on Amazon, my discount promo was taken down within an hour.

So, word to the wise, if you want to play with KDP, go ahead, but take advantage of KDP Select before you upload to Smashwords. Your iTunes, B&N, etc. friends will grumble, but it will definitely save your grief and time.

December 31st, 2013

Pop that Cork!

December 31 has always been kind of a big deal in my family. Not only is it the last day of the year—it’s also my mother’s birthday.


My Mom and Me in Hawaii 2012

My mother doesn’t accept gifts anymore—her rule. She has enough “material possessions.” So as my nonmaterial gift to both of us, I’m making a slight change to The Flower Bowl Spell publishing model.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select

For the next 90 days, the e-book will be available exclusively on Amazon as part of their KDP Select Program. If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can check out the book and add it to your library for free. There are other promotions through this program that I’ll be doing in the near future post-holidays (read: when my kids are back in school and I can concentrate!), like a Kindle Countdown Deal and a Free Book Promotion Deal. More details on that soonish.

Kindle MatchBook

If you have a print copy of The Flower Bowl Spell that you purchased from Amazon, then you can get a digital copy of the book for the discount price of 99 cents. Pretty sweet, right? The regular price of the e-book is already fairly low—$2.99—but who doesn’t like to save money wherever they can? I know I do.

But What About Non-Kindle Copies?

Already own a copy of the e-book through iTunes, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.? Fear not—your copy is safe. I’m trying this KDP Select dealio out for 90 days to see if I can drum up some sales of the book, and then I’ll likely go back to selling it through other outlets.

So, that’s my New Year’s news. Have a very happy 2014, whether it’s crazy or tame, your birthday or not. No matter what you do, be safe.

January 25th, 2013

Happy Anniversary Giveaway!


My Book—My Kindle

One year ago, I uploaded my novel The Flower Bowl Spell to Smashwords. It quietly “went live,” and I was the first person to download it. How thrilling to see it on my iPad amongst my other books! The next day, I put it on Amazon, and bought it a second time, this time for my Kindle. Wow! There it was amongst Little Women and The Passage. What a trip!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a Giveaway, powered by Rafflecopter. One lucky winner will get a $25 Amazon gift card. Answer one question to enter. Like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, tweet about the giveaway, and/or buy a copy of my book for more chances to win. The raffle closes on February 10, 2013, which happens to be Chinese New Year’s day. Click here now to enter for your chance to win.

By the way, this coming year is the Year of the Serpent. “Steady focus and attention to detail” will be the name of the game according to HanBan.com. Sounds like a plan.

August 13th, 2012

Holding Pattern

Ever since I got back from a week of camping (bliss: no cell phone or Wi-Fi access!), I haven’t been writing, or promoting, or much of anything. I’ve been reading, trying to find a book that will hold my attention and get me jazzed, but that’s been tough too. As far as writing goes, I’m at a bit of a standstill. I finished a draft of a children’s chapter book, and my first readers (my kid and the husband) gave it a thumbs up. My writing group will critique it later this week, and I’m going to a workshop in a couple of weeks at Book Passage with Amy Novesky, so I hope to get some good insight there as well.

What I Did on Summer Vacation
What I Did on Summer Vacation

Here’s the brutal truth: sales have slowed way down on The Flower Bowl Spell. I know I can only hold myself responsible for that. Most sales have been to friends, family, and the occasional acquaintance. I doubt a total stranger has bought the book (not counting the freebies downloaded during E-book Week on Smashwords back in March). If I could “break in” to the stranger market—sounds weird, I know—then maybe sales would take off. But for now, I’m dialing back promotion because it hasn’t really paid off. I did two blog tours this summer, working my butt off writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions and visiting the host blogs. Yet there wasn’t a pick-up in book sales.

Consequently, at this point I can’t justify the cost (editing, book cover) it would take to put out a second book. I’m in a wait-and-see mode. A holding pattern.
Part of this limbo has to do with my non-author life. My kids are about to head back to school, which means soon there will be more of a routine in place for us all (although more stress as we navigate homework and after-school activities, among other things). Another part is my freelance-writer life, and thank goodness it’s alive and kicking to help with the bills, etc.

Things are bound to change—of course I want to put out a second book! Most likely it will be a short-story collection, because that’s what is the most ready and polished. I also hope to query agents about the children’s chapter book sooner than later. I would love for it to be out there, published by a traditional press that can support it as a series.

We shall see. Time will tell. It always does.

March 30th, 2012

New Review of My Humble Novel

Peeps, I just want to share the latest review of The Flower Bowl Spell by author Roberta Goodman. Here’s a link to her review. Just click here. A highlight: “The Flower Bowl Spell by Olivia Boler is a fantastical fast-paced roller-coaster ride. This story will keep you guessing until the end as to the identities of those trying to gain power through sinister means.”

You can find out about Roberta Goodman’s novel, Snow Escape, by clicking here. But to whet your interest, here’s a brief description: “Set against the backdrop of a historic snowstorm, Snow Escape is the story of one woman’s innocent foray into the world of online dating turned deadly.”



Intrigued? Me, too.

Thank you, Ro, for the review, and to Book Blogs for another great writing/publishing connection!

March 14th, 2012

Kobo Readers, anyone?

Thank you to all who downloaded a copy of The Flower Bowl Spell from Smashwords last week during Read an E-book Week. I really hope you enjoy reading the book, that it keeps you up at night thinking, Well, just one more chapter…

Since then, things have been quiet. I probably shouldn’t share this because it’s kind of negative, but I haven’t had one sale on Amazon this month! And I have no idea how things are going over at iBooks, B&N, etc. I do know the book is finally up at Kobobooks, so if you have a Kobo Reader, go for it! And to buy one, click here.

In the meantime, I am nearly done getting the book ready for the paperback version. So, so close. I hope to have it done before heading out with the family for Spring Break, but there’s also a giant freelance project looming over my head…and a little one…Ah, life!

March 4th, 2012

My e-book FREE for a limited time!

Happy Read an E-book Week! OK, I just learned about this too. But it’s a really cool thing because from March 4 to 10, you can get The Flower Bowl Spell for FREE from Smashwords as part of the celebration. Considering the price went up last week to $2.99, this is an amazing deal. And remember, you can download the book from Smashwords to your Kindle, Nook, eReader, Kobo, iPad, laptop, phone, and I don’t know what other device. Possibly your brain? So, to those who have paid full price, thank you, and spread the word to your friends that they can download The Flower Bowl Spell for absolutely no cost. But only for a limited time. USE COUPON CODE RE100.


And here’s something that made my day, counteracting the fact I haven’t had even one download on Amazon since the end of February: I received one of the nicest, most thoughtful reviews this morning by a reader, Sara Smolarek, on Smashwords, which you can read if you go here. Sara, I don’t know you, but I thank you for writing up such a fantastic and honest review!

Another cool bit of news: Smashwords announced it has signed a distribution agreement with Baker & Taylor, a major book distributor to libraries and bookstores. That includes distribution to the Blio e-reading app, which is often pre-loaded on computers and laptops by Toshiba, Dell, and HP. There’s also a free Blio app for iPhones and Androids, and a Blio bookstore. My book should be up there soon.

My friend Debbie and I were just talking about how I could get my e-book into libraries. I’d put it on my to-do list, which is oh so very long. Well, this new Baker & Taylor deal means public libraries that use Axis 360 (I’ve also seen this written up as Access 360, so maybe someone can fact check that) could make The Flower Bowl Spell available for checkout. Huzzah!

OK, so I’ve done my happy dance, and now it’s back to the trenches. These days, the trenches means formatting my book for the paperback version on CreateSpace. It’s not as easy, to put it very kindly, as I had hoped it would be. I think they are trying to crush my spirit so I will just give in and pay for the professional services they offer. But, oh no! I won’t cave. And I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say right now, my mortal enemy is the Section Break function in Microsoft Word.

So, tell your friends: The Flower Bowl Spell is FREE on Smashwords until March 10. COUPON CODE RE100. If you download it, let me know. Thank you, and happy reading!




January 29th, 2012

Twiddling my thumbs as Amazon uploads my book

Finally, finally, finally! I uploaded my novel, The Flower Bowl Spell, to Amazon for the Kindle. I really hope it looks good. The preview made me worry that the cover and my author photo are going to somehow get converted to tiny pixellated images of cameras with an exclamation point. Still waiting on Premium Status for Smashwords, but have sold a few copies and had some sample downloads, huzzah!

Apologies also for the lack of maintenance on my Publications page. I know, I need to get some hyperlinks in there, and I will make it so, very soon! I promise. This whole formatting and uploading thing has hold of all my attention, and also the strange loss of many of the WordPress widgets when I went from having a straight blog to my own domain name. But that’s boring. The fact is, I was up late last night (that means 1 a.m.—it’s a wild life I lead), trying to figure out where all my sexy widgets went. So that, and putting off my actual paying work has been the M.O. the last couple of days. In fact, I’m starting to feel almost as anxious about it as I do about all the stuff I have to do for indie publishing. Stress—what a motivator!

January 26th, 2012

Welcome to Olivia’s new website

This has been quite a day, an up-and-down day. I uploaded my first eBook this morning on Smashwords. It’s called The Flower Bowl Spell, and you can buy it for $0.99. What a bargain, right?

A little bit about me. When I was about 28 years old, in 2000, I published my first novel with a small press. The book is called Year of the Smoke Girl, and you can find used copies on Amazon. I thought I’d hit it big! I wrote more novels, short stories. Even a novel-in-stories. I quit my day job as a paralegal to write full time as a freelancer. I queried agents and publishing houses. None wanted to represent or publish my new work. In the meantime, my editor passed away and so did his publishing house.

Flash forward to 2011. Ebooks are hot. Self-publishing is no longer considered a one-way ticket to Loserville. Some of my writer friends have made it. Some are still keeping their day jobs. I’m about to turn 40, and it seems time to give myself a very big gift—the gift of publishing one of my novels, one that I think has a chance to be successful.

So today, 25 January 2012, I did just that.


January 25th, 2012

A typo already??? Uploaded to Smashwords today!

Drum roll please…So, I just uploaded the novel to Smashwords this morning. I should shout hurray, right? Not so fast.

First, I’m not providing a link to the book (although if you go to Smashwords and search Olivia Boler or The Flower Bowl Spell, you’ll find it) because I immediately found a glaring typo in the dedication—a period next to a comma [.,] that is not in the original document I uploaded. What the what??? There’s another huge typo at the very end in the title, About the Aauthor. Yes, it reads “Aauthor” on my eBook files but again, NOT on my original document. I haven’t gone over the whole thing with a fine-tooth comb, so I shudder to think what I’ll find inside the doc once I do.

[NOTE: I am adding this paragraph after I initially published this post, but don’t want to bug you all unnecessarily with a whole new post. I figured it out! Before you submit your Word document to Smashwords, you need to ACCEPT ALL CHANGES in the document! This is very, very important, otherwise, typos you think are fixed (even after you’ve hit SAVE) might show up in the eBook files Smashwords creates!]

Also, I am waiting to hear back from Smashwords about my “Premium status” in their catalog. that could take a week or two. I’ll keep you all posted.

But typos are the least of my problems right now. I am trying to revamp my website, oliviaboler.com, on my own. Let me just say, I am not a web master. Ha! That’s certainly clear, since my already long neglected, decrepit website has completely disappear. Which is why, again, I am not linking it up here. I have lost hours since last night trying to figure it out on my own, the whole FTP, PHP, blah blah blah. Oh, these are the times independently publishing is so daunting, and I wish some kindly editor had just taken on my book and dealt with all this minutiae herself.

OK. Got to call tech support, get groceries, and upload to Amazon. What are you doing today?

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